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Dry and Wet

09/21/2023 03:56:38 PM


This week we read as our Torah portion Ha’azinu, Moses’ second to last discourse to the Jewish people. In this poem, Moses returns several times to very distinctive imagery to describe God, calling God a “Tzur,” a rock. The metaphor implies constancy and security. God is eternal, like the very bedrock, and the ultimate source of protection, impregnable as a rock fortress. However rock is also unyielding, and Moses experience of God is that God is profoudly unforgiving. Despite all of Moses’ worthy deeds over 40 years of leadership, God held just one of Moses' sins against him and refused to allow him to enter the land. That sin, as you may recall, was striking.. a rock! This Torah portion often coincides with the shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, called Shabbat shuvah, and would seem to offer a distressing tone for this week. If God is unforgiving and unyielding as a stone, what value could there be to our repentance? If God would not forgive the righteous Moses, what hope is there for the rest of us.

When this Torah portion aligns with the season of repentance, the Haftorah, which begins with the word “Shuva”- return, offers a curative. Several passages from the Haftora use the image of water. A passage from Micah talks about casting our sins into the depths of the sea. Water has the power to cleanse and conceal. The opening passage, from Hoshea describes God as dew. Though dew is the most gentle form of precipitation, even the tiniest drops of water can, over time wear down rock and shatter flint. 

As we make our way through the season of repentance, we pray that we see as water, rather than rock. If we are sincere in our desire for forgiveness, our sins will indeed be cleansed, whether by an oceanic flood, or by the slow drip of dew.

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784